Signs of Stress in Dogs & Cats L

ike us, our dogs and cats can experi- ence significant feelings of stress. Since our furry family members can’t

talk to us about how they’re feeling, it’s up to us to learn to recognize the body lan- guage and behaviors of a stressed-out pet so that we can take steps to correct the situation.

10 Weird Signs of Stress in Cats and Dogs

1.Excessive grooming (cats) — Exces- sive grooming in cats, also known as psychogenic alopecia, occurs when nor- mal licking becomes obsessive. It often begins as a displacement behavior, which is a coping mechanism for stress. Licking releases endorphins which can help an anxious kitty self-soothe. Symptoms of excessive grooming include licking, biting, chewing, hair loss, skin wounds and ul- cerations. Before psychogenic alopecia is diag-

nosed, other causes of excessive licking (e.g., generalized itching, a painful area, fleas, parasites, neurological problems) must be ruled out. Once underlying causes are either ruled out or resolved, treatment for excessive grooming is focused on stress reduction and environmental enrichment.

2.“Whale eye” (dogs) — The whale eye, also called the side eye, is that sidelong glance your dog gives you that communi- cates something's up. It describes a greater amount of white in the eyes that is

more pronounced when he averts his head slightly, but keeps his eyes fixed on some- thing or someone at the same time. If your dog's side-eye is accompanied

by a rigid stance or visible tension, or if it happens repeatedly and is clearly more than just a sidelong glance, it could be stress-related, and it wouldn't hurt to con- tact a positive dog trainer or behaviorist. In the meantime, when he shows the side- eye or other signs of stress, petting him gently with long, smooth strokes will help him relax.

3.Hiding (cats) — If your normally social

kitty is suddenly hiding and there’s no underlying medical condition causing the behavior, it’s likely due to stress. From loud noises to unfamiliar guests in your home, the list of things that can stress out your cat is endless. For some, it's the sight of a cat carrier, signaling a trip to the veterinarian. For others, it's an unsolicited attempt to pick them up. Many cats become stressed by other pets in the home, fragrances (from scented candles, for example) and thun- derstorms. It’s a good idea to proactively provide your cat with a safe spot she can retreat to

Daniel Lackey, FNP-C Daniel Lackey, FNP-C

Daniel Lackey, FNP-C is a board certified Nurse Practitioner. His background is in Emergency Medi- cine, with 5 years of experience as an ER nurse. His nurse practitioner degree includes specialties in fami- ly practice and adult gerontological acute care. Following his true pas- sion, however, he also obtained a certification in functional medi- cine. He finds it is truly rewarding and efficacious to address the root cause of illness instead of viewing the body as separate systems.

336.768.3335 OCTOBER 2020 25

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